Debe Dohrer Design
A clothing designer pivots to create a new line of jewelry and accessories.
Written By: Ridley Green
A fearless entrepreneur and businesswoman, Debe Dohrer launched her business Custom Rags, a personalized clothier for men and women, in 2000. The Arizona native attended Arizona State University before arriving in Nashville with her then boyfriend, who was a musician playing with Lyle Lovett. First a saleswoman at Nashvile's Coco clothing store, then employed by J. Michaels Clothier, Dohrer soaked up everything the city had to offer.
“I was like a sponge. Because I came here from Scottsdale, I needed culture—something cool,” she says.
Suddenly, though, she was diagnosed with a liver disease and given two years to live. She recalls the crippling nature of her condition and not even being able to lift a fork. Despite a less than hopeful prognosis, Dohrer pulled through—and from the experience, she met her first investor, Tom Beeman, former CEO of Saint Thomas Hospital. Beeman became her first client and biggest supporter, giving her the support to open Custom Rags.
Since then, Dohrer has amassed an impressive clientele that includes the likes of Pacman Jones, Jeff Fisher, Brett Favre, Gary Allan, and Kenny Rogers. While she continues to create custom clothes for clients, Dohrer now has a new line of scarves, t-shirts, and jewelry under the name Debe Doeher Design. Using cigar holes, wine stains, vintage ties, shredded linen, seed beads, and metal discs within the designs, she says accessories and jewelry allow her greater creative freedom than clothes do.
“You can take something very plain and have it as a canvas,” she notes. “It’s kind of the final brush stroke.”
Dohrer’s hope is to spend more time on her metal hardware and woven glass jewelry in the coming months, so keep you eyes open for new releases.